Sat versus Sitting … and Stood versus Standing

By December 9, 2018Grammar

Sat versus Sitting . . . and Stood versus Standing

I cannot count the number of times I have heard a reporter use the phrase was sat instead of the correct phrase was sitting. And here’s another incorrect phrase: he was stood at the bus stop instead of he was standing at the bus stop (unless, of course, he was physically put there!). Broadcasters, newspapers, and writers, it seems, are at fault for the misuse of these verbs. So do people say these phrases because they do not realise they are speaking ungrammatically, or do they say them because they are seen as an acceptable form of speech?

Personally, and this is anecdotal, I feel these words have crept into misuse only in the last few years. And as more and more people see these words in print or they are heard on the airwaves, they will be accepted as correct. As far as dialogue is concerned, if this accurately portrays the person, I haven’t a problem with it, but I feel writers have a duty to write correctly in narrative.

Here are some examples I have read. Both books, incidentally, are published by worldwide publishing companies. God help us all!


Daisy was sat on the edge of her bed, done up to the nines.

Her children were sat at the table behind her, throwing their food around like hand grenades, and she just didn’t have the energy to stop them.

Saskia was sat bolt upright in the single easy chair . . .

But right now she was sat in the kitchen of a man who’d said his wife was out . . .

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